NC State student earns RCC engineering degree


HAMLET — Joel Dunn is in his freshman year at NC State University; however, he has the privileges of a junior due to the 80 college credits he earned at Richmond Community College which transferred with him to college.

“The best part about having junior status is being able to get a parking pass and get in early for classes,” said Dunn, who is from Ellerbe.

Dunn graduated from RichmondCC in May with an associate’s degree in engineering. This degree includes general education and prerequisite courses that meet the requirements for admission to all North Carolina public bachelor of science engineering programs.

Dunn was enrolled in the REaCH (Richmond Early College High School) program and his advisers, knowing of his intention to study engineering, recommended the Associate of Engineering transfer program.

“They advised me to take Calculus I-III, Chemistry I-II, and Physics I-II, which gave me a major advantage over many of my peers, and I’m grateful for that” , Dunn said. “I had to stay in the Early College program for a fifth year to take classes like Physics and Calculus III, but I think it was worth it in the end.”

From an early age, Dunn was drawn to subjects such as math, science and technology, and he attended STEM summer camps at RichmondCC.

“I have always been interested in STEM work and what I would be able to do for the world in this field. So acquiring an associate degree in engineering and science was a natural fit,” said Dunn said.

At NC State, Dunn is taking a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering, but he can also double up with an additional degree in electrical engineering.

“I couldn’t even imagine what it was like for people coming to NCSU for the first time with no college experience under their belt. I definitely recommend the transfer degree to people who want to become an engineer,” Dunn said. “RichmondCC provided smaller classes and just a better overall environment to learn a lot of the fundamental concepts that I’m currently using. You won’t be successful in engineering if you don’t understand the fundamentals.

At this point, Dunn is still working on his career plan.

“Half the reason I wanted to attend NCSU is because of the huge job fair they have here every semester,” he said.

Whatever his plan, Dunn said he definitely had a leg up in the “college game” by attending Early College and RichmondCC. Although he has junior status at NCSU, he doesn’t have the normal college debt a junior would have because he went to college for free through the REACH program.

Dunn is grateful to his family who encouraged him throughout his school career and to those who sparked his interest in engineering. He is also grateful for the many friends he made at RichmondCC, some who are also at NC State with him.

Registration for the Spring 2023 semester at RichmondCC is now open. Current students should consult their advisor to plan their courses. New students can complete a free online application at and meet with a career and college transfer counselor to register for classes. The free 2023-24 application for Federal Student Aid is now available. This is the form required to be eligible for financial aid or RichmondCC scholarships. Dial (910) 410-1700 for more information.

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